As of today, this party is officially two months old. We entered this by-election shortly after this party’s formation and signed up hundreds of IEC-registered voters as members in the Vredendal area. We have hundreds more who will be registered by the time of the national election. What is happening in Vredendal will expand across the rest of the province and the country.
It took the presence of at least four ANC ministers, including Trevor Manuel, wholesale intimidation of our voters (including physical violence against them) and what we believe was a shameless manipulation of the voters’ roll for the ANC to win this election. The DA, too, sent top officials, including Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Even with them having done that, they were not sure that they had indeed done enough. This election was not about winning a ward. It was about attempting to humiliate the Patriotic Alliance. But they failed to achieve that in any way. The green wave will continue to surge.
There were two voting stations yesterday, one on the farms and one in the township. On the farms, the ANC took 176 votes, the PA took 139, the DA took 121 and TPICO took three. There were five spoilt ballots. We were heartened that we were able to beat the DA in a place where they are often strong. In the township, the ANC received 562 votes and the DA 560 votes. The PA won 301. TPICO took the small remainder, less than 4%.
It goes without saying that the ANC and the DA are heavy political players and are well established. TPICO has four council seats in the municipality and the mayor himself contested for his party in this by-election. In this context, the level of support the PA received is extraordinary. It is a moral victory, if not an outright one. Almost a quarter of Vredendal’s people came out to give their vote to the PA. For a new party, that is extraordinary.
We, along with the DA and TPICO raised serious concerns about the fairness of this election. We as the PA have proof that the voters’ roll was seriously compromised in favour of the ANC and that the IEC attempted to frustrate our efforts to win here yesterday. This is a fight that goes far beyond the matter of one town council seat.
The IEC is this country’s most important institution. If we cannot trust it, then all hope for the future of democracy will be lost. The PA will not stand idly by and allow this to happen. We raised our concerns in writing with the IEC three days before the election and all of our fears were realised. The IEC will have to explain how these things could have occurred under their watch and flouting every principle they were established to defend.
All the same, our presence in this election has raised the level of political contestation considerably. Hundreds more voted in this election than in the municipal elections of 2011. The PA exposed the serious weaknesses of the other parties, who have had a chance to prove themselves in these communities for decades and have failed in numerous ways. Our presence finally made them realise the true cost of failing the people. We will continue to have a presence in Vredendal, which will ensure that the level of political engagement by the established parties will have to remain at a high level or we shall surely defeat them in the years to come. The PA exists because of dissatisfaction with how the big parties treat our people. If our existence alone changes that, then we have achieved our aims, whether we ever win one election or not. But we trust and believe that we will win in future.
We are grateful and humbled by the votes we received. These are people who have put their faith in the PA and we resolve that while we may fail to win all the votes, we will never fail any of our voters.
We must thank all our selfless and hard-working canvassers for their weeks of tireless effort. We thank the party members and volunteers in the community who stood shoulder to shoulder with us. Our heartfelt thanks go to Jacky Gorden, our candidate. Jacky, there will be another round and we will not lose again. We also want to thank the four white voters from Vredendal who cast their vote for us. They understand that we are a non-racial party that wants to put the needs of people (not a certain kind of person) first. People is why we are here and people will keep us here.
We have learnt much during these first two months and it will stand us in good stead for the bigger fight to come. The message is clear: we stand strong, with one aim, united and undeterred.
Never has anyone found more encouragement in the face of defeat. We came here with nothing and left knowing hundreds of compatriots are behind us.
Yours in patriotism,
Secretary-General, Patriotic Alliance